Literary Eccentricities.

James Joyce [wiki] was nearly always seen wearing an eye patch, which was not mere accessorizing: He suffered from glaucoma throughout adulthood and eventually went completely blind. In fact, he dictated much of his latest book, Finnegans Wake, to his research assistant, Samuel Waiting for Godot Beckett.

But Joyce sometimes wore five wristwatches on one arm, which was mere eccentric accessorizing. He also asked his wife, Nora Barnacle, to sleep with another man so he could understand the feeling of being cuckolded, which seems a bit odd. (Nora declined.)

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Nineteenth-century French poet Charles-Pierre Baudelaire [wiki], who besides being quirky was addicted to opium, once famously wrote, "If you would not be the martyred slave of time, / Get drunk! ..." He wasn't kidding about making the most of his time: In his house he kept a clock with no hands that bore the inscription "It's later than you think." Incidentally, the positively batty Baudelaire also happened to own a pet bat, which he'd captured at (where else?) a graveyard.

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Charles Dickens [wiki] could not sleep unless his bed was aligned in a north-south position. Also, he habitually touched certain objects three times "for luck."

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When he was 29, George Bernard Shaw [wiki] lost his virginity to a widow 15 years his senior. Apparently it wasn't all that good, because thereafter Shaw rarely, if ever, had intimate physical relationships - not even with his wife, to whom he was married for 45 years.

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Although Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie [wiki] did not like the taste of brussels sprouts (as would befit a boy who never grew up), he often ordered them at restaurants. Why? "I cannot resist ordering them. The words are so lovely to say."

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"Little Mermaids" and "Thumbelina" author Hans Christian Andersen [wiki] was so intensely afraid of being buried alive that he left a note by his bed each night that read, "I only appear to be dead." Andersen was right to feel anxiety around sleeping, incidentally: In 1875, he died as a result of injuries sustained falling out of bed.

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Although Emily Dickinson [wiki] was not quite the utter recluse that she is often made out to be, she was unquestionably eccentric: She wore white from head to toe, exclusively, for the last several years of her life.

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From mental_floss' book Scatterbrained, published in Neatorama with permission.

Be sure to visit mental_floss' extremely entertaining website and blog!


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Charles Dickens [wiki] could not sleep unless his bed was aligned in a north-south position. Also, he habitually touched certain objects three times "for luck."

Certain "objects", eh? Is that a euphemism or what?
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The paragraph about H.C. Andersen reminds me when I was about 12 or so ... I had a bunk bed and slept on the top; one time I just jumped out of bed in my sleep and incredibly landed on feet. Sadly, not on my toes, but on heels, and it hurt so bad that I almost had to go to a hospital. Quite a rude awakening, literally.
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